Author: M. Raiya
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 256 Pages
Category: Fantasy, BDSM
At a Glance: Unfortunately, the delivery fell way short for me. There are enough gems in the writing and Aster’s character that the makings of a cohesive, well-paced and well-structured story are there, which makes it that much more disappointing that they didn’t come together.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Outwardly happy with his life, inwardly Aster longs for a dom of his own: someone he can trust with his heart, body, and soul. Then while in Montreal, in the midst of a snowstorm, he meets a mysterious man, Vanor, who seems like a dream come true. He gives Aster the safeword ‘winter’ and their night together seems made of magic. But over breakfast the next morning, Vanor literally vanishes before his eyes. Shocked and confused, Aster returns helplessly home to Vermont. Months later, Vanor appears on his balcony, naked and half-frozen, in the midst of a snowstorm. Shortly after, two men appear and snatch Vanor away—with dire threats of punishment if he escapes again, and Aster soon finds himself dragged into a world most humans are not supposed to know exists…
Review: Aster is a confident, free spirit who works in a sex shop in Vermont. While on a trip for his boss, in Montreal, he meets Vanor, a mysterious golden-eyed man who fulfills every longing and idea of the perfect Dom that Aster has ever had. Unfortunately, he vanishes into thin air the next day, leaving Aster hurt and confused. His confusion increases exponentially when Vanor appears naked on his balcony in the middle of a snowstorm, as do two other men, only to have them all vanish into the night. After ending up in the ER, Aster finds himself in a new world, faced with the fact that his lover isn’t quite human nor is he free. In order to have his Dom and the future he wants, Aster must shake up this new world, and do so by making an enormous sacrifice.
Fair warning, I LOVE fantasy/sci-fi/magic, etc., and am a huge nerd, so world building is very important to me and plays a significant role in my enjoyment of a story. So, if the world building is shoddy, the rest of the story needs to be very strong for me to ignore it and any inconsistencies. Therefore, read this review/take my rating with a grain of salt. That being said, Winter had potential to be a great read—an intriguing concept, BDSM, and fantasy, all rolled into one. Unfortunately, the delivery fell way short for me. There are enough gems in the writing and Aster’s character that the makings of a cohesive, well-paced and well-structured story are there, which makes it that much more disappointing that they didn’t come together.
Sometimes the writing is lyrical and whimsical, other times it’s clunky; additionally, there are enough grammatical errors such as, “the darkness fell was full of eyes,” (or, in one case, a chopped off sentence) that it was distracting. It also didn’t help that the pacing and dialogue in some scenes are rushed and unbalanced. Some of the scenes felt like they were in such a hurry to introduce some piece of exposition or reach some narrative point that cogent conversations/development weren’t really priorities. Moreover, the magical element just felt lazy. The magical creatures in the story are called Intrepids. What are they, you ask? Well, “there isn’t much to tell,” according to the book.
They are connected to an element (sky, fire, water, metal or earth), and do magic. Some live for centuries, some don’t (couldn’t tell you why). Apparently most Native Americans and some Vikings were Intrepids, and there is a social hierarchy, with Sky Intrepids being at the top, as well as slavery because their society is too old to change. This has “chilling” parallels to “historical Indian culture and the present,” according to Aster’s sociology degree, which only makes sense in the story if you don’t think about it too hard; otherwise, if most Native Americans had magic (and let me tell you, these are some serious magical powers), then their oppression by colonizers doesn’t make sense unless the settlers were mostly Sky Intrepids too??? Things are randomly introduced or slotted into the narrative to serve the story or the social issue, but without adequate coherence, such as some other creatures that may be Intrepids but are different somehow (also unclear), to spice up the story, to make Aster’s boss, Cara, relevant, to have a fun magic action scene that ends in cock cages, as well as the making of rash decisions that basically lead to a sudden training montage, etc.—the story just jumps all over the place and needed a good content editor.
As for the BDSM, it’s as magical and slipshod as everything else. For lack of a better way to put it, Vanor is basically Aster’s soul-dom. Their love and BDSM activities happen with the speed of a werewolf/vampire/supernat mating bond, so almost none of the rules or tenets of actual BDSM apply. Like the magic, it’s there to titillate and add spice and interest to the story. At the end of the day, I can see people enjoying Winter. There is insta-love/insta D/s connections for those who like that. Aster is a decent character with a kind heart, his and Vanor’s relationship “development” is definitely unique, and the D/s inspired kink sprinkled with magic will work for some.
You can buy Winter here:
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